Affordable Housing Week – get involved!

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 1.03.58 PMEast Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO)  and Albany’s Diverse Housing Working Group (a community coalition co-founded by Transition Albany) both believe that affordable housing mitigates against gentrification, enhances neighborhoods, sparks economic development, and stabilizes communities. Doesn’t that sound like what we need?

Each year EBHO organizes an Affordable Housing Week. This year it runs from May 11 to 16, 2015, and I’m taking full advantage of it.  I invite you to join me in attending some of the events to glean inspiration on what we could be doing here and to make valuable connections.

You can find the entire range of events on DHWG’s website, and below are the ones I’ll be going to. At the very bottom of this post are some interesting facts, plus the short video Terry Lamb made for us of people expressing their needs for truly affordable housing in Albany.

Wednesday May 13 10 – noon (details on Calendar listing)

A panel describes the design, development, fabrication and construction of modular homes, and answer questions. the event is sponsored by BBI Construction. It’s near 12th Street BART station and I’ll be taking my bike, so I can whizz on to the next event:

Wednesday May 13 12:30 – 2pm (details on Calendar listing)

David Baker Architects take us on a tour of the Lakeside Senior Housing. Although this is not a low income development, the architect is innovative, green, and highly ethical and is very good at making smaller parcels work. This is someone we need to get to know for Albany. And the day’s not over yet!….

Wednesday May 13 6 – 8 pm (details on Calendar listing)

LeadershipRules! Graduation Ceremony. Several residents in affordable housing, including former Bulb resident April Anthony (who features on our video), graduate from Leadership Rules, an academy that has supported them in becoming more effective advocates for themselves. The event will be at Le Cheval Restaurant (so we may be paying for food)…

Thursday May 14  9:30 – 11:30 (details on Calendar listing)

Allen Cain and I are driving to Walnut Creek for the grand opening of Arboleda, new permanent affordable housing for 48 households that includes support for people with developmental disabilities. This event is sponsored by Satellite Affordable Housing Associates, whose Executive Director, Susan Friedlander, is an Albany resident and member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Wanna come?

Thursday May 14 12 – 2 pm (details on Calendar listing)

If we can fit it in, we’ll go to the grand opening of Cathedral Gardens on Oakland’s 21st Street – 100 affordable multi-family units on the site of a cathedral that was damaged in the 1989 earthquake. The historic rectory will be retrofitted for seven low-income households. The developer is EAH Housing.

Thursday May 14  2 – 4 pm (details on Calendar listing)

City of Oakland has a Housing Assistance Center in downtown, and some of us are going to check it out with a view to creating a similar Housing Resource Center in Albany. Come along and get inspired!

Saturday May 16 10 – 1 am (details on Calendar listing)

For me the final hurrah: a 10-mile bike tour of Oakland’s affordable housing, mostly on roads with bike lanes or sharrows. Three places we’ll go inside and stop in front of 12-15 properties, with talks from the developers. During the tour we’ll also discuss how affordable housing mitigates against gentrification, enhances neighborhoods, sparks economic development, and stabilizes communities. Now THAT sounds like what we need! This tour is sponsored by EBHO itself.

 

INTERESTING FACTS:

“Affordable Housing” means you pay no more than 30% of your income on housing. 41% of home owners and 53% of renters in Albany are currently spending more than 30% of their income (some as much as 50% or more) on housing and are considered “cost-burdened.”

This is partly because Albany has historically ignored its obligation to provide affordable housing and has thus priced out large numbers of people who are not top earners. If there was housing here they could afford, they could be adding richness and variety to our community with their unique contributions. Here’s a video highlighting a few of those folks, made by Albany’s Terry Lamb of Videosyncracy.

The Diverse Housing Working Group has been putting pressure on the City, and succeeding in getting items added to the new Housing Element, to ensure there are ample opportunities and incentives for low-income housing developers to build here. Now we’re getting started on making sure the best ideas – this year our goals include instituting a Housing Resource Center where local housing needs can be addressed – are implemented. Look out for a survey somewhere near you…

Here’s an interesting article on affordable housing for seniors in Oakland, written by a friend of mine, Laura McCamy.

A Brit who came to the US in 1988 and found California and the Transition movement to be a perfect fit. Now my life is replete with a dear husband, a small but productive permaculture backyard, a loving family and a very full calendar of work I love.

Posted in Community Building, Housing, Social Justice on April 9, 2015